It’s a classic grey July day, summertime sadness is the name of the game and what better fitting way to meet with dark lords of noisy rock Kamikaze Nurse. Seated on a patch of dead yellowing grass I succumb to the witticisms of Adams Family values. The band is both wholesome in it’s familial intimacy yet grim, celestial, and dare I say, raw.
Having gone through several configurations featuring past members like Mareesa Holmes of Cave Girl fame, Late Spring alumnist Nik Gauer, the band finds themselves fully settled into their present configuration. They’re now comprised of original members John Brennan, an old cowboy in the experimental music community; and renaissance woman KC Wei, alongside new members that include her sister Sonya Eui of Necking on bass, and Ethan Reyes, a local music darling with an extensive CV boasting such tender projects as Bedwetters Anonymous and Puzzlehead.
The band finds their humble beginnings halfway around the world, in South Korea. It was there that the notoriously multi-talented KC Wei found herself grappling with the intrinsic loneliness all too familiar to the journey of a solo music project: “That was in March [of 2018] and I was really missing playing in a band.” She recollects “I was playing some hazy solo stuff and just feeling really alienated and alone. I missed playing with people. Then John and I were messaging and from there it led to us jamming.”
In spite of the newest members only joining the band as recently as last November, their chemistry has fuelled and nurtured the collective creative process in a way that could be described in literally no other way than a Deluezian romance.
“I think this band has made me a much better guitar player. On these new songs I’m able to do shit I probably wouldn’t have been able to do when I first started practicing,” Reyes reflects “the songs are so weird, and they force me to think in a different way about playing guitar.”
“Like Deleuzian?” Wei quips.
“Like Deleuze. They make me play guitar in a Deleuzian way.” Reyes confirms.
Brennans background in experimental music fosters a reciprocal relationship when participating in the bands creative process “I’ve mostly played in kind of improv music… This was a challenge in a way for me, and it was exciting because I got to have the time to play with these incredible people, and think and compose differently on the drums…” he expresses, “I think a lot of my approach to playing is a little bit more… it’s stranger. And I think I get that from [playing] with [musician] Jake Hardy – Jacob Audrey Taves aka Holzkopf […] playing all these disjunct beats. I try to take from that palette and those microrhythms and micropatterns and then incorporate them in this setting. I feel free compositionally with this project and that nobody’s like, “You’re going off the rails, this is too crazy.”
For Sonya, Kamikaze Nurse has offered a new way of relating to and performing music outside of the realm of her classical music beginnings and upbeat post-punk endeavours “Literally I feel like my body changes when I play compared to Necking its so weird […] its like birthing a different persona […] [Necking is] very freeing in that it’s mostly for fun’s sake. But in Kamikaze Nurse it feels like shrinking into a ray, if that makes sense. It’s very … I just keep thinking violent is the word to describe it. It feels so intense, and I even notice I don’t smile when we play at all…” Sonya reflects, “cause I just feel so fucking cool.” she adds jokingly.
Wei contributes riffs and while she previously wrote much of the material, the lyrics have evolved into a more collaborative process, with Reyes penning most of “Blue Garlic Man”, and both Eui and Brennon completing “Johnson D”. While she was part of spearheading the bands formation, she embraces sharing equally in the creative process. ”When a riff is starting to come out in my head, I can see how everyone can contribute and fill it out more, and trusting that ‘maybe this riff sounds like this now’, but being okay with bringing it to the group and having it sound completely different when the layers are added up. I actually really love that; that’s what I really look forward to.” Reflecting on her growth since her previous band, Late Spring, it’s clear her experiences in Kamikaze Nurse have enriched her creatively, “it sounds so affected to me now. I definitely feel that, finally, I’ve moved on from that project, ‘cause that project meant so much to me. But Kamikaze Nurse is more fulfilling ‘cause I feel like I’m actually where I’m supposed to be, or I wanted to get here when I was in Late Spring.”
Rather than an explicit concept, Bucky Fleur (titled after publishing artist Jo Cook’s best friend) explores visual esoteric themes, conjuring mood and feeling. The relationship each member has to their intimate experiences with literature and film finds its place amidst the dense layers of sound. The album manages to evoke the cinematic — and albeit intellectual—with a rough irregularity and subtle humor that frees it from the vulnerabilities of pretension.
“When I wrote the lyrics [for Johnson D] I was reading Mayakovsky, I was reading his revolutionary poetry, and it’s very bloody and cruel. And like, colourful…” Sonya reflects.
Similarly, Reyes draws from literary influences, “The lyrics for “Blue Garlic Man” were Joseph Conrad and Deleuze. A lot of my lyrics for my other stuff as well have a lot of nautical themes. Just because I love Joseph Conrad and that’s all he wrote about… [in] “Blue Garlic Man”, one of the lines is just about sinking a boat, basically. That comes in a lot of my other songs as well… lots of rivers and boats.”
“Each of the songs are kind of like their own little world […] because there’s lots of parts and it’s not always really a verse-chorus-verse-chorus banger,” John elaborates, “it seems like even within one song you’ll be transported into a different place […] [they’re] more dimensional compositions instead of linear compositions, where we’re able to experience these sounds together.”
“For me the most powerful kind of artwork is evocative of a mood. Or a feeling, and that feeling is the thing that sticks with you, ‘cause you have those feelings all the time throughout your life, whether it’s like heartbreak or excitement or desire, and then we just have these movies or books or songs that trigger those moods and feelings. So I think it is all related but I don’t really know what comes first?” Wei muses, “I think they influence each other in this circle. It’s like nature’s circle… of decay and desire.”
The visceral immersive nature of the band’s work creates a space for both the audience and its members to be transported; a process that has bloomed emphatically, like sarcastic blossoms on a grey July. The guitar, the drums, the bass, the vocals — these pollinators of rock and roll let us know this is only just the beginning for this transcendent band.
Kamikaze Nurse’s album “Bucky Fluer” released via Agony Klub is now available on their bandcamp